Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: What's the best book you've read this January?
Oooh, tough one when you look at everything I read last month...
I'm going to discount all the comics, which narrows it down to Pandemonium, Seraphina, and Teeth. Seraphina and Teeth are my clear favourites, but if I had to pick one... it'd be Seraphina.
It's just such a fun, refreshing YA fantasy, (whereas Teeth was a very dark read and quite ruthless with the emotions). My review should be up tomorrow!
Book: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium, Book #2
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci Fi/Dystopian/Romance
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and fame.
I love that title, even though I always feel like it needs an exclamation. Pandemonium! It's such a great word:
I've had a complicated relationship so far with Lauren Oliver. While I loved her debut, "Before I Fall", and the concept of "Delirium", the actual book left me flat due to it's confusing ending. I also get grumpy about the UK cover redesigns, though "Pandemonium" and upcoming final book "Requiem" have much nicer covers and I've actually grown to like them and how they fit in with the "Before I Fall" cover.
Thankfully, "Pandemonium" was full of pleasant surprises. It's a much tighter-written and ambitious book than "Delirium" was, alternating between the past and the present as Lena adjusts to a hard, scraping-for-survival life in the unregulated Wilds outside the city ('before') and sneaks into New York City to tail the son of the president of Deliria-Free America, an organisation that viciously promotes the idea that love is a disease and the only safe humans are those 'cured' by a lobotomy-like procedure ('after').
Lena is a stronger person, even as she deals with her grief over "Delirium"'s events realistically, and she's a much more enjoyable character to follow this time round. Oliver also expands the world laid out in the previous novel, taken it from a sketched-out dystopia into a realistic future society with a lot of moral grey areas.
The scenery descriptions are nicely done, though occasionally repetitive (snow seems to crackle a lot in the Wilds), and the new characters introduced are varied and feel like they have a lot of depth to them. The two story lines also alternated nicely, with very little opportunity for confusion, up until the merging point which felt a bit unclearly defined.
I'm very happy with how "Pandemonium" turned out. While a lot of middle trilogy books can be weak and plotless, "Pandemonium" is miles stronger than "Delirium" and restored my faith in Lauren Oliver's writing. I'll be looking forward to reading and reviewing "Requiem" closer to its March release date.
I bought a copy of this novel myself for personal reading, but I'll note that Hodder & Stoughton have previously provided me with review copies of "Delirium" and "Requiem" in exchange for honest reviews.